If you have chronic rhinitis, chronic sinusitis or continual nasal discharge you might have nasal or sinus polyps. These are non-cancerous growths that obstruct breathing and proper drainage of the sinuses. They usually form in clusters, like grapes, and can be found in the nasal passages or on the lining of the sinus cavities. Once your ENT has exhausted medication-based treatments, sinus surgery may be recommended to remove these polyps. This type of procedure can be done using a minimally invasive technique called “endoscopic sinus surgery”.

Endoscopic sinus surgery

An endoscope is a highly specialized piece of medical equipment that allows the ENT to look right into your body. It is a very thin tube that can flex and carries a video camera and surgical tools into the area the ENT is going to treat.

By using an endoscope, your ENT can have direct access to your polyps without making an incision. This means a faster recovery, less pain during recovery, and reduced chances for complications from surgery. The development of the endoscope means that many sinus surgery procedures can be performed in the ENT’s office or in a hospital on an out-patient basis.

During the surgery, the ENT will use the endoscope to reach the area of the polyps. The polyps will then be removed with small surgical tools. Endoscopic sinus surgery may be performed under a local or a general anesthesia.

Preparing for sinus surgery

Be sure to follow the ENT’s directions for preparing for your specific surgery. You will be instructed when to stop certain medications that may increase your risk for bleeding or infection. If general anesthesia is planned, you will be given instructions on when to begin fasting.

Whether you are having surgery in the office or in the hospital, don’t wear any clothing that needs to be pulled over your head. Button down shirts will reduce the risk of bumping your nose. Don’t wear jewelry or make-up either.

Even if your sinus surgery is done under a local anesthesia, it is a good idea to have a friend or family member drive you home after the procedure.

What to expect during sinus surgery recovery

Your recovery period will depend on the nature of the surgery. In general, you can expect a little discomfort for a few weeks after endoscopic sinus surgery. It is important that you follow the ENT’s directions for taking any over-the-counter pain medications as some can increase risk of bleeding.

You will be given instructions on irrigating with a saline solution to remove dried blood and mucous and to keep the membranes hydrated. Be sure to follow the instructions and rinse as instructed. It is important to refrain from blowing your nose; this can cause bleeding. Even after you have completely recovered you may find that nasal irrigation with a saline solution helps you reduce allergy symptoms and breathe easier.

Sleeping with your head elevated will not only be more comfortable, it will reduce inflammation and make breathing easier.

You should be able to resume normal activity in a few days, but refrain from strenuous activity or sports until given the all clear from the ENT.